Retail Revisited with Harry J. Friedman

Episode 3: Who Does An Employee Represent The Business Or The Customer?

Podcast Episode Cover Image

Some employees may have the best interest of the company in mind, while others have the best interest of the customer. But who do employees really represent? Harry dives into this topic with a viewpoint that may surprise you.

Retail Revisited with Harry J. Friedman 

Episode 3: Who Does An Employee Represent The Business Or The Customer?

Podcast Episode Cover Image

Some employees may have the best interest of the company in mind, while others have the best interest of the customer. But who do employees really represent? Harry dives into this topic with a viewpoint that may surprise you.

*Disclaimer: This transcription was automatically generated so we would like to apologize for any misspellings or grammatical errors in advance

Justin: Harry welcome back. Harry you mentioned something to me a few weeks back and it stuck with me and I thought it would be interesting to do a podcast around it. The topic was around whether or not an employee represents their business or their customers?

Harry: Well hey, how you doing Justin?

Justin: Well you know every day is a good day when I get to talk to you about some of these compelling and very, very just dynamic topics. I just want you to know that I always look forward to them.

Harry: Well good my father used to say it was always a good day when he would read the paper in the morning and he would immediately go to the obituaries looking for his name and when he didn’t see it he felt it was going to be a good day, alright. He thought that was funny and I’m glad I got to repeat it. Anyway, this came about in a conversation that we had when we were talking about the role of a sales person particularly in opening the sales and getting to the point of a demonstration and so forth but it was there that the kind of mental positioning. And I said well sales people don’t quite get that, what they really should be doing is representing the customer not the store. And I want you to think about this for just a moment, so there’s the store or company doesn’t matter if you are a manufacturing company or service company, it doesn’t really matter. So there’s that thing let’s call it X right it’s the store, it’s the manufacturing facility whatever and you are a sales representative for that company. You know let’s take a look at it this way you know where everything is so if I walk into a store a salesperson knows everything I mean they’re supposed to they know where the little nuts and bolts are, they know where the big items are they know where the side items are. i mean they know what’s there and a typical retail store will have thousands and thousands of SKU’s and a person walks in and it’s overwhelming nobody could see the details of the store, you agree with me? Anytime you walk into a place you don’t see the details you just see a global kind of a view. You in many ways might not even see a cursory tour of the store the very thing that you came in to buy and yet it’s right over here. That’s happened tens of hundreds of time when people walk around unassisted they miss things. In any event I kind of believe that a sales person says to the customer, hey how you doing? I know everything the store and not only that but i know what they do and they will fulfill your hopes and dreams and desires and what you want and why you want it and all that stuff and I am going to be the lesion, I am going to be the person that helps you discover what’s in the store and I will help you with recommendations. I’ll tell you what’s right for you and what’s wrong for you and all sorts of different kinds of things because my job is to help you to represent you. In finding all the good stuff in the store now what I won’t do is violated company policy or do, things against the company. But those things are minor I mean I think it’s just an attitude of who you represent and I think if people were to change that attitude and change that view point wow it’s amazing.

Justin: But aren’t some businesses scared about employees who care more about the customer than the business? If they’re taking this at face value like all I care all about the customer and not my business does not that kind of worry some businesses?

Harry: Wow what a weird choice. Man Justin, you keep coming up with these weird scenario I hate the question. So we’re I understand where it comes from but what about as long as I’m not violate I am not violating company policy I’m not all of a sudden saying to a customer will look you know we have a 30 day return policy but even though it’s 120 days with you it’s okay with me because I represent you. I we’re not really talking about that we’re really because that’s wrong. I just talking about the attitude that the salesperson has. Let’s do it another way let’s take a look at it another way. If we’ve talked about this before your father owns retail your father and mother owns a retail store in San Diego it’s a store that I absolutely adore I’ve worked with over the years. It’s a scuba diving store I am a scuba driver I ever have been forever. The store is gorgeous I love everything about it. If your father said to a sales person my daughter’s coming in because she’d finally wants to be a diver. Could you, could you help her out? Now what would the sales person do knowing it’s the bosses daughter how would they approach this sale?

Justin: It’s a great question. Probably in a very sensitive open way you know kind of keep yeah but it’s a good question.

Harry: They’d be very honest wouldn’t they?

Justin: Very honest.

Harry: Yeah this stuff is not right for you this is be perfect this is the best in the world I recommend that you get this but you also need this and this and this. There would be no limitations the add-ons to all the appropriate steps to be no limitations because it’s the boss’s daughter. Would you agree with that?

Justin: A hundred percent.

Harry: Yeah and there be no pushiness or aggressiveness but for sure this salesperson would want a load her up right make sure that she’d never complain that she didn’t get all the stuff right.

Justin: Yeah got to be take care of.

Harry: That’s right so and your father would say well did you get a light? Right did you get a light? Yeah I got a light, I got a light I got a light, I’d light up the place with a light that I got because good, good, good. And your father says did you get a life because he’s double checking on the sales person to see how complete his presentation was did he go all the way down to a light. Do you see? I mean you would miss nothing (cross talk- that’s right). So if there’s no budget and this person is about as close to right the yeah organizations hierarchy as possible you have to put on like the greatest presentation in the world with nothing missing. Good so that’s my point if you were to just pretend that every customer was the bosses sons or daughter with no reservations or limits and you’d be representing that person to the stores wonder. Some magic would happened and that attitude that behavior on the floor is so delightful it’s so cool when you’re almost budding up and say hey I got connections let’s go in the store here let me show you some really great stuff this is wonderful.

Justin: Yeah

Harry: Very different, very different that’s all that’s a heck of a lot different than, so are you looking for anything in particular? And my favorite line which almost caused me to commit suicide was, did you find everything you were looking for?

Justin I mean do you even go into retailers anymore? Because I feel that’s still about 90 percent of the conversions.

Harry: Did you find everything you were looking for? At which point I always say nah and they go oh, what didn’t you find? Well I was looking for a good sales person I just haven’t found one. I actually don’t say that but I’m believe it or not I am kind of immune, immune to it it’s kind of if a doctor is walking down the street and he sees a guy with a big red blotch on face you know, he doesn’t walk over and go man you look really bad you know he just keeps walking. So I’m not as frustrated as I probably should be but I do make a mental note of how you know of how untrained or unprofessional as a group retail salespeople are. It’s such an easy game to play at an high level all you have to do is want to do it right.

Justin: Yeah but let’s take a slight a little bit of a left turn away from representing the business but how some of the miss conceptions or miss interpretations where the employees thinks they are representing the customers or the customers best interest but they are actually hurting the relationship. I believe in the past we have spoken a little bit about electronics or kind of the automotive industry and having certain sales reps or certain people just kind of misinterpret what a relationship with a customer means. And when they are not actually supporting the relationship by what they are recommending or what they are saying.

Harry: Wow did you beat around the bush on that one. We were talking specifically about some cars that were rated the 10 worst cars for resale value that was the genesis of our conversation.   And the question was, how does a sales person sells a car that has a lousy resale value? And I could see how you could turn this into you were doing the right thing for the customers and the right thing for company by selling this car. And it can be a tough question by it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Not every customer is looking for resale value, and I’ll tell you why? There are a lot of people, not you Justin but there is a lot of very normal people that buy a car and they keep it for years and years and years and years until it falls apart or has too many miles or something. There are people that actually do that Justin, I mean there are actually more people who that than what you do which is get bored of the color and get yourself a new car. When someone has invested in a car over, okay you finally got that

Justin: So not true.

Harry: So true. So, if I have a car for 8 or 9 years, guess what? It’s not worth anything ever at that point. Even the most expensive, even if you buy a Mercedes you know a fancy BMW after 8 or 9 years the thing is it’s not worth much at all, especially if it has a few miles on it. So the motivation of the customer is not exactly matched up every time with the sales person. So I don’t find that to be a constraint at all I don’t even think it’s something that needs to be mentioned. I think if a customer says look I buy cars from time to time and run them forever and I think this car is beautiful and I think that’s a perfectly good sale representing the customer very well. I don’t think the resale value should be brought I don’t see that’s its germane to the situation so I am okay with those kinds of things. I think there are problems when a company is offering you know if there is an ethics problem where the company is saying one thing and the truth is something else that’s an ethics problem. And I would never get my self-involved in those kinds of issuers I would not sell it ultimately I just wouldn’t work for the company that cheats the customer out of anything so.

Justin: So just to make sure we clarify this so I of course can understand.  You walk up to a dealership there is a car on the lot that you like but it happens to have the worst resale value in the industry and the sales rep tells me than and says you know what this car actually has the worst resale value

Harry: No why would a sales person say that?

Justin: Exactly, why would they say that? What they are doing is they are jumping to a conclusion that sharing this information is something is representing in the best interest of the customer. When in fact they actually are not representing the customer and they haven’t even found out why the customer is even there. Is that kind of the thing? They are jumping to this conclusion where they are sharing something that actually maybe irrelevant for the buyer.

Harry: Yes first of all it’s all about the motivation of the customer think about this for a moment. Yeah guys my age baby boomers there were lots of cars when we were growing up and this of course happens in every generation but it particularly was strong in my generation where we have the muscle car and we have all sorts of wild cars through the fifties and sixties and early seventies that were kind of groundbreaking. And so some of us have this pain in our hearts to you know go back and revisit some of these things. So these cars aren’t worth a dollar whatever product it is, it is not worth a thing I know of a guy that wanted to buy an old tube amplifier and it was a particular brand and he always well I tell you what it was a tube amplifier called a Macintosh believe it or not this is well in advance over Apple ever coming in to existence. But if you had a lot on money and you lived in Beverly Hills you probably had a Macintosh. Well a guy my age who’s is in a swap meet or something and he sees this Macintosh and it’s you know its $50. And he can hook his iPod up to it or something with a couple of speakers he goes you know what for the 50 Bucks I want it. It’s not worth anything, he wants it.  There’s a 1000 reasons why people want things and for you to impose your will on them even psychologically like on the resell value is just not what the game is all about you’re not actually representing the customer. And I wish every customer would tell you what their motivations for buying are. And they don’t necessarily, some do. If you’re skillful enough you can draw it out of them but I think you’re representing the customer very well. What you can’t do, what you can’t do Justin is if a customer comes and says look I want a car with great resale value and then you put him on to the one that has the worst now that would be wrong.

Justin: Right, Right okay.

Harry: For example if you were to take a look at anybody driving a corvette today anybody guaranteed it’s a guy and he’s 65 years old nobody else buys corvettes period. Because all the guys that wanted one you know 45, 50 years ago just couldn’t afford it not a guy those are the guys that drive corvettes take a look. Everybody out the audience I want you to take a look at who’s driving the corvettes.

Justin: Well Harry I think the new corvette looks pretty awesome if I could afford it I may I mean I would. I would not be opposed to being the first 32 year old driving a corvette.

Harry: You would be the first.

Justin: Okay. Final thoughts on how employees can best represent the customer for the business.

Harry: It’s a matter of view point it’s not a matter of skills, ability and knowledge it’s a matter of getting your view point to serve the customer very, very, very, very well and you’re a tour guide into all the wonderful things that your business has to offer. And if you think of yourself as a tour guide with a twist meaning that its tour guide that closes the deal. Then I think you will have better stronger and more important relationships with your customer.

By | 2017-06-19T09:05:12+00:00 June 19th, 2017|Podcasts|0 Comments

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